The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the average salary for a nurse director as of 2018 was around $99,730. More recent data from 2022 has shown that the average Nursing Director makes $158,670 per year.
There are many branches of nursing which means there are many career paths available to suit a wide range of needs. Nursing doesn’t limit you to just looking after patients, paths in education, forensics, and sales are some of the alternative routes one may consider.
If you’re considering starting a career in healthcare, or fancy a career change from bedside positions then it’s important you have all the relevant information. In this article, learn how much a director of nursing makes and more about the role itself.
What is a Director of Nursing?
If you’ve not heard of this career path before, let’s explain. Directors of Nursing (DON) or nurse directors as they are otherwise known, are registered nurses but they specialize in an administrative role. These roles are often full-time office jobs based in healthcare facilities. The main responsibilities of these nurses are to lead and supervise a nursing unit.
What are the Duties of a Director of Nursing?
As the majority of the role is administrative, there are a number of relevant duties that can be expected. Examples of the types of things a nurse director might do on a daily basis include
- Supporting staff and community groups
- Reviewing policies and procedures
- Implementing changes
- Developing a budget or business plan
- Dealing with any hiring, firing, or development of staff
- Ensuring the unit is up to date and compliant with all government regulations (state, local, federal)
- Dealing with inventory, order processing, and distributing products and services
- Managing data and medical records
- Working with doctors and reporting to high-level staff members
How to Become a Nursing Director
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1. Educational Requirements
Although nurse directors aren’t at a patient’s bedside, they still need to have a comprehensive understanding of the profession and all the relevant medical knowledge. Therefore, a nurse director must have at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with some institutions requiring a master’s degree.
The master’s degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in nursing, but something related to public health care or administration is preferable. Certain healthcare settings will require specific qualifications, these will be listed in the job description.
Recent research has found that healthcare institutions are requiring more of their nurse directors to have a Master’s degree as it equips them with the necessary critical thinking, leadership training, and communication skills that are essential for the job.
2. Certifications And Credentials
Nurse directors must hold a state license to prove they are a registered nurse, which means they would have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. A Nurse Executive Certification is needed to become a nurse in an executive field. This certification demonstrates that the individual has a high level of competence in the field and will open doors to new opportunities.
These qualifications can be gained from outside agencies and can cost around $300 through the American Nurses Association. Certain employers may require certifications in healthcare management or in specialty areas of nursing which will be stated in the job description.
How Much Does a Director Of Nursing Make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the average salary for a nurse director as of 2018 was around $99,730.
More recent data from 2022 has shown that the average Nursing Director makes $158,670 per year. Salaries for this profession can range by location, education, skills, work history, and any other number of factors. These figures are just a guideline. Here is a list of average salaries for nurse directors by city and state:
- Miami, Florida = $154,467
- Atlanta, Georgia = $156,954
- Dallas, Texas = $157,638
- Las Vegas, Nevada = $162,081
- Chicago, Illinois = $168,331
- Washington, District of Columbia = $176,631
- Boston, Massachusetts = $178,773
- New York, New York = $190,880
- San Francisco, California = $198,337
The BLS expects to see an estimated 20% increase in the number of Nursing Directors employed between 2016-2026. This is higher than the need for general registered nurses, there is more demand for higher scale professional nurses in the current climate.
The number of vacation days that a nurse can receive depends on a number of factors such as the budget of the institution, the type of institution, and how many years of service the person has provided to the healthcare system. Vacation days can range between 12 and 26 days per year.
Further advancements can be made within this career path. Nurses can earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Executive Nursing Administration. Those that complete this program will become interdisciplinary leaders within health teams and can help to improve the systems and policies put in place by healthcare settings.
Other areas they can influence are patient outcomes and health within local communities. This can be an extremely rewarding role that earns on average upwards of $100,000 per year.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a career as a Director of Nursing is not only rewarding, but it also offers financial security which is always welcome. This role requires a lot of hard work and determination due to the level of study, but this will ultimately pay off in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take to Be a Director of Nursing?
Directors of Nursing will have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which is usually a four-year course. They will also need to obtain a master’s degree in nursing or another appropriate field which could take between two to three years. The majority of Directors will have at least three or more years of management experience plus some clinical nursing work history.
Who is the Highest Paid Nurse in the US?
The highest paid nurse currently in the US is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, these highly skilled workers can expect to earn around $200,00 a year.